The Real Philosophy of Dower
- :Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari
According to our belief, the dower has come into being as the result of skilful arrangements, put into the very design of creation, to balance the relations between man and woman. The dower has come into being, because, by nature, the respective roles of man and woman are different from each other. According to the gnostics the law of love and attraction prevails everywhere in the Universe. As everything is designed to perform a definite function, its role is different from that of all other things.
While discussing the disparities between man and woman, we have already pointed out that their feelings and sentiments, with regard to each other, are not the same. The law of creation has ordained that woman should have the qualities of beauty, pride and indifference, whereas man should have those of courting and pursuit. That is how the physical weakness of woman, as compared to man, has been counterbalanced, and for this very reason it has always been man who has sought woman's hand and proposed to her. As we have already seen, according to the sociologists, during the periods of both matriarchy and patriarchy, it has been man who has sought after woman.
The scientists say that man is more lustful than woman. Certain Islamic traditions say that man is not more lustful. Actually the case is the reverse, but woman has a better sense of self-restraint. Practically, both the views come to the same thing. Anyway, it is certain that man has less self-control. This feature has enabled woman not to run after man, nor to submit to him easily. Man's instinct compels him to approach woman, and he takes steps to gain her favour. One of these steps is to present her with a gift.
Members of the male sex have always vied with each other to win a female. They have even fought each other to achieve this end. But the members of the female sex have never shown the same keenness to win a male. This is so, because the roles of the male and the female are not the same. The male always pursues a female whereas the female shows a sort of indifference to him.
The dower is closely related to woman's modesty and chastity. She knows by instinct that her self-respect demands that she should not submit herself freely.
That is how woman, in spite of her physical weakness, has been able to bring men to their knees, to compel them to vie with each other, and to make Romeos run after Juliets. When she agrees to marry a man, she receives a present from him as a sign of friendship, cordiality and goodwill.
It is said that among some barbaric tribes, when a girl had more than one suitor, she used to persuade them to fight a duel. Whoever won the duel or killed his rival was considered fit to secure the hand of the girl.
There was a newspaper report that a girl in Tehran persuaded two boys to fight a duel in her presence. From the point of view of those who think that power means only brute force and maintain that the history of man-woman relations contains nothing but cases of cruelty and exploitation, it is unbelievable that the fair and weaker sex should be able to set on two members of the stronger sex to attack each other. But for those who have some knowledge of the wonderful and mysterious power which nature has granted to woman there is nothing strange in this.
Woman has had much influence over man. Her influence over man has been greater than man's influence over her. Man is indebted to woman and to her chastity and charming modesty for his many achievements of art and feats of bravery. The credit for the building of many a personality and the developing of many a genius goes to her. Woman has built man and man has built the society. If woman loses her qualities of chastity, modesty and restraint, and tries to play the role of man, first she may be debased, then man may lose his manhood, and in the end the society may be ruined.
That faculty of woman, has enabled her to maintain her personality throughout history; to compel man to come to her door-step as a suitor; to lead man to rivalry and even to fight for her sake; to maintain her modesty and chastity as her hallmark; to keep her body hidden from the gaze of man; to inspire man to love to perform feats of bravery, as a sacred asset; to excel in intellectual and creative deeds; to sing amorous songs and to submit to the weaker sex in humility. Hence this tendency has impelled bridegroom to offer his bride a present at the time of marriage as the dower.
The dower is a part of the natural law, which has been promulgated by nature itself.
Adapted from the book: "Woman and Her Rights" by: "Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari"
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